They said I was born kicking and screaming. My eyes couldn’t yet process the tragedies of the world. I knew from a young age, an infant even, that something was different about me. Every choice I could make was laid out in front of me. Life was a maze: a wooded path. I could see each step in front of me, but never more than that. As if this burden wasn’t enough, I see yours too. I can see the wheels turning in your mind as you choose your next action. I can also see how it affects you. The few that I’ve shared my gift with pity me, saying it would be a curse. It’s all I’ve ever known, and likely, all I ever will.
When I was a child, my mom and I were leisurely ambling through the market when a passerby sneezed. I saw myself, then, getting very sick, and my mood was sour the rest of the day. Imagine seeing the repercussion of every decision everyone makes, or the action everyone takes.
I have reached the point when life becomes monotonous. Others might call it a sweet sixteen. I was at that point when finding my purpose in life was like finding a needle in a haystack. Friends are out of the picture when you have a life like mine. I see them trying to pull away from me, and I see them having a much happier life without me, so I let them go. I never told any of them my secret. Only four know and I don’t plan on telling anyone else. It is mine: my beautiful curse and tragic blessing.
I had a childhood friend, Rhett, who I confided in. I’ll never forget what he said and how I dreaded hearing it. He looked me in the eye and said,
“Oh, Keva,” his voice dripping with pity. After that, he left. He moved far away. It was then that I discovered the weight of my burden.
I walk to school, shouldering my bag along with my responsibilities. The leaves whistle as they cross the ground and I feel guilty as they crunch under my feet. Before I know it, I’ve reached the school. The obsolete building looking as dreary as ever despite the mild weather. By the time I reached my seat in my first class, I was already gearing up for a bad day. It took a few minutes for me to notice the white envelope on the floor under my desk. It said in disheveled handwriting, To Keva. I thought it odd that I received a birthday card when the only people at school that knew my birthday were from the admissions office. From the envelope, I pulled out a card and a photograph fell out of it. When I saw the faces in the picture, recognition spread across my face. It was Rhett and I. We were sitting in the grass, smiling. I tried to picture in my mind what the card would read but came up empty-handed. My mouth fell open and I wrapped my arms around myself, at a loss without my power. A classmate walked by and the rush of wind made the letter fly open. The chicken-scratch handwriting read,
“Happy Birthdays, for all the ones I missed, this one, and many more. Sincerely, Rhett Jones.” What happens next? I reached as deep down as I can, desperately clawing for my power. I have always known what the future looks like. I laid my head down on my arms and softly banged my head against the table. I could see that there would be a spot on my lip from where I was nervously chewing it. My powers must work, but I drew a blank when it came to him. I felt a pair of eyes on me. A voice hissed,
“Keva, is that you?” I whipped my head around at the sound of my name, and his voice. He still had the slight southern drawl from before he moved to Baltimore.
“Rhett,” I said, his name feeling comfortable on my lips, “where have you been?”
“A lot of places,” he said, truthfully. He smiled down at his shoes and there was an awkward pause. “You look different. I mean not bad. Not bad at all. Actually quite good. It’s just…”
“Different,” we said in unison. I finally made eye contact with him and saw the same green hues. His eyes like the forest floor, speckled with leaves and micah.
“Do you wanna do something later, you know, catch up?” I asked, finding my voice once again. “There’s a coffee place near here. We could go grab a drink.”
“Do they have hot chocolate?” he asked, sheepishly, once again looking down at his shoes.
“The best,” I replied.
The rest of the day inched by, dull minute by dull minute. I filled the time digging through my mind, trying to figure out where this friendship might take me. There was nothing. For once I was going into things blind. I felt my palms get sweaty and wiped them on my jeans.
When I arrived at the coffee shop, it was full, but he was nowhere in sight. I looked in the alleyways around the building, wondering if he had gotten lost. Without warning, a pair of hands reached out and pulled me in.
“Let me get a few things straight,” Rhett said in a hushed tone, “You can see the future?”
“So, when I was younger, I was friends with someone who could predict my every move?” He asked, incredulously.
I shook my head.
“What about now?” He asked.
“With you,” I breathed out, “Everything is a surprise.”